Much to the dismay of many native South American’s, Christopher Columbus takes the claim to fame for discovering the fruit we know today as pineapple.
This prickly tropical sensation has no relation to pine nor is it akin to an apple. Columbus named it “Pine of the Indian” because it reminded him of a giant pinecone and then later tagged the apple behind it to entice the European palate.
South American Guarani Indians cultivated pineapples for food naming it nanÃ¡, meaning "excellent fruit."
Thanks to the early British explorers, this luscious fruit was being exported to England with great gusto by 1555, and it soon spread to India, Asia, and the West Indies. Much to my own surprise, the pineapple is not native to Hawaii and was not introduced to the islands until James Cook showed up with a boatload in 1770.
Commercial cultivation did not begin until the steamship industry kicked into gear around 1880 and James Drummond Dole started his canned pineapple empire in the early 1900s, making Hawaii the largest cultivator and exporter of this canned product.
Today you will be hard pressed to find Hawaiian grown pineapples in our local stores as the Hawaiian production has dropped to less than 10 per cent of the world’s crops. Thailand, Philippines and South American Countries lead today’s market.
The nutritional aspects of this juicy fruit are diverse and plentiful with great amounts of vitamins A, C, B1, B6, copper, fibre and an important digestive enzyme called bromelaine.
Bromelain helps aid the body's digestive system and has been used to help treat Bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections. It also aids in reducing inflammation and lessoning swelling in acute conditions such as sinusitis, sore throat, arthritis and gout, and in recovery from surgery as it speeds up healing of injuries.
To get the most out of bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties, pineapple should be eaten raw and alone between meals or its enzymes will be used up in digesting your food.
Did I mention that pineapple is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese? You should know that it will aid in energy production and anti-oxidant defences so best stock up on this delicious and nutritious fruit.
Thai Pineapple Rice Bowl
A meal in itself, stir-fried rice with pineapple, baby shrimp, chicken breast, ham, and vegetables is quickly stir-fried and served in a pineapple shell.
1 fresh pineapple
2 teaspoons oil
2 cups cooked rice, cold
1/4 cup baby shrimp
1 cooked chicken breast half, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup diced cooked ham
2 green onions, sliced, including green tops
1/4 cup peas
1 dash rice wine
Slice pineapple in half. Hollow out each half by removing the pineapple meat. Reserve 1/4 cup of chopped pineapple and reserve the rest of the meat (discarding the tough and bitter core) for other uses.
Heat wok. Meanwhile, grill cut sides of pineapple halves over grates on a gas stove, on the grill, or under the broiler until heated through.
Add oil to hot wok and spread it around. Then add rice and stir-fry about 2 minutes. Add shrimp, chicken, and ham, stir-frying another two minutes. Add peas, green onions, and chopped pineapple. Stir-fry another two minutes until all ingredients are mixed and hot. Add rice wine and mix. Serve rice in heated pineapple halves.